“Ow! That hurts!” The man yelled while backing through the lighted doorway. He quickly ducked as a shiny piece of metal flew past his head. “Stop throwing those! That’s my collection!” Another piece came flying out and nicked his arm. The man retreated further outside.
In the doorway now was a woman. Countering his retreat she stepped forward and flung another metal piece at the man. “Your collection, “she yelled, “who needs a belt buckle collection when their belly is so big it rolls over everything down there. No one can see your belt buckle. Hell, you can’t even see your dick in the shower anymore you cheating prick”. As if to emphasize her wrath she threw another belt buckle at the man. The buckle hit him in the head with an audible ‘thunk’. The man reared back in reaction and his motion activated the lights sensors on the garage. The yard was suddenly flooded with light.
The man wore a black tank top with some unidentifiable band logo emblazoned on the front, blue jeans, and brown boots. His hair was shoulder length and light brown, his beard was scruffy and his belly did indeed hang over his belt, obscuring any buckle.
The woman, currently lofting another very sharp-looking belt buckle at the man, was simply dressed in pink shorts and a white tank top. Her entire left side was covered in colorful tattoos while her right side was light brown unblemished skin. Her hair was blond and her aim was good. This time the lofted buckle clipped the man high on his right cheek drawing blood.
“You bitch, “he yelled at her. “You’re making a big deal outta nothing. It was just a blowjob in the truck. It’s not like I kissed her or anything. How’d you find out anyway?”
“Fuck you”, she screamed so loud her voice cracked. “You know what?”, she said, pausing mid-throw. “this ain’t worth it. Scott, you’re a pig. You drink too much, you cheat, you lie, and you’re just a shit person. I am done with this. Leave and don’t come back. I’ll send all your shit to your brother’s house. If I ever see you around here I am gonna shoot rock salt into your ass.” She dropped the two buckles she was holding, turned around, and went back into the house. She slammed the door behind her.
Scott got up and walked a few steps closer to the door. He picked up the belt buckles on the ground and yelled, “it’s my house you bitch! You get out!” He laughed.
Through the door she answered, “good luck getting me out, it won’t be your house tomorrow.”
Scott wiped at the trail of blood running down his cheek and looked at the blood on his hand. “Fuckin bitch. My house. Shit!” He pulled his cell out of his front pocket. Tapped at it a few times and held it up to his ear. “Gary, come fuckin get me, bitch threw me out again.” He hung up the phone with the push of his thumb and let the phone slide back into his pocket.
Scott was sitting on the guardrail, next to the mailbox, at the end of the driveway, smoking a cigarette when the red box truck rolled up next to him. He stood up and flicked his cigarette into the small copes of trees behind him.
The man in the truck yelled, “Motherfucker, you’re gonna burn the woods down.”
“I could give a fuck,” Scott said,” I’m sick of this life and everyone in it. I hope the whole world burns tonight”. He opened the door and climbed into the cab of the truck.
“She find out about Wanda?” Gary asked.
Gary was hard to see by only the dashboard light, but clearly, he was as scruffy as Scott. He had a big nose, a big floppy hat, and was smoking a cigarette. The tip of the cigarette glowed red and danced in the darkness as Gary spoke. “I told you it was stupid. The girls all talk. You are a BFD for doing that. ”
“Well, I don’t care anymore and you’re the big fucking dummy in this truck asshole. I want to destroy something. I am so pissed right now. You got beers?”
“Cooler’s behind you. Get me one. ”
As two bottles were popped open, behind them the flicked cigarette butt ignited the dried leaves in the glade, and a small fire started.
Highway 71 at 5 am was unremarkable. Brown grass, brown trees, and a long black strip of highway. Scott took the last sip from his beer. He pulled the brown bottle away from his mouth and looked at it. “Hey man, why do you always drink out of bottles? Cans are smaller and cheaper”
“Look”, Gary said, “What are cans made of? Aluminum, tin, I don’t fucking know. What I do know is that if you toss a can out the window, that can is gonna sit on the roadside and slowly rust away. A month, a year. I don’t know, but that can seems to stay forever. Now..” Gary cranked the driver’s side window down. Cold damp air rushed into the truck. Gary grabbed Scott’s empty bottle. “You see bottles are made from sand. If you toss this fucker out”, he threw the bottle out the window, and it smashed on the tarmac. “You come back in three or four days and there won’t be any of the bottle left. Maybe a shard or three but most of it is gone, back to nature. It’s all about the environment, plus I hate the last sip in a can, tastes like metal.”
Gary took the last pull of his beer and went to toss it out the open window too, but he stopped. Up ahead was a car on the opposite side of the road. It was a green shoebox-shaped Kia. Gary slowed a little. He closed one eye, lined up the toss, and flipped the bottle end over end out the window. There was a loud crash. Gary stopped the truck and threw it into reverse.
When they were parallel with the Kia, Gary said, “Holy shit, the windshield is shattered. I didn’t know the bottle could do that.”
Scott got out of the truck and ran to the car. “It’s empty, but you sure as hell busted that window.” The Kia was searched by the two men. There was nothing worth taking, other than the half a joint Gary found in the armrest pocket. Scott was just coming back to the driver’s side of the truck when he saw Gary toss another bottle at the Kia. This one shattered on the busted windshield and spread liquid all over the stranded vehicle. A lit match followed. Scott danced back as the Kia, with a whoosh, burst into flames. Scott looked over at Gary.” You crazy fuck! I was right there, and who’s the fuck’s car are you lighting on fire?”
Scott saw Gary’s face, lit by the raging fire, break into a maniacal grin. “Let’s burn the world tonight” He shouted.
Back in the truck and roaring away from the burning vehicle Gary started ranting. “Those are your words. I hope the world burns tonight,” Gary said, “What have we got to lose? I hate my job, you hate yours. Your girlfriend is dumping you and taking your house. Hell, it’s been so long since I’ve had sex I’m not even sure my dick still can do that. We have beer, money, and smokes. Let’s do some mayhem! “
“Yeah, Fuck it,” Scott said. “Where are we headed?”
“Pass me another beer and I’ll fill ya in.” Gary reached for the proffered bottle, “You see, about two months ago Bob and I did a late-night job for someone at that chemical company off the highway. You know that place that looks like a prison all lit up at night, fenced in by razor wire. Bob and I were paid five thousand bucks to load up Bob’s truck with drums of chemicals and haul it away; no questions asked. All that shit is still in Bob’s garage cause we didn’t know where to dump it. Bob thought it might be something we can use so he opened one of the drums.”
Gary slowed the truck and turned into a driveway. Motion sensing lights burst to life and flooded the driveway with light. Gary rolled the truck down the dirt track and around the back of a building. They both got out and headed for the lit doorway.
Bob was a short muscular dark-haired man. He was currently swinging a large black hammer onto an engine block, trying to dislodge something, or so it looked to Scott. Gary headed straight for the Pepsi machine and opened the front. This made Bob stop pounding and shout at Gary “No you shithead, you pay for beer like everyone else. I hate you coming in and wiping me out. I got no beer for Sunday. You pay, like everyone else!”
Gary rolled his eyes but shut the machine door. He dug in his jeans, pulled out a bunch of crumpled ones and a lighter. As Gary started to feed money into the machine Scott walked over to Bob. Bob put down his hammer and the two men embraced. “Why do you still hang around with that loser?” Bob asked, loud enough so that Gary could hear it.
“Because I am the only one who will come get him when Carol tosses him out on his ass. Cause he can’t keep his dick in his pants,” Gary yelled, as the dollar he was hoping to buy a beer with, once again, was rejected by the machine.
“Carol found out about Wanda huh?” Bob asked with a boyish grin on his baby face.
Scott stepped back and asked the room “Who the fuck doesn’t know about me and Wanda? Was it on the fucking news? Is it tattooed on my forehead?” He threw his arms up and walked over to where Gary was in front of the Pepsi/Beer machine. Scott opened the front and pulled out a can of beer. Scott popped the top. Gary yelled, “Bob, what the fuck,? “
Bob just looked at Gary and said” He’s good for it” and he laughed.
“Fuck you,” Gary said as he went back to trying to feed his crumpled dollar into the slot.
When Bob reached for the hammer again, Scott noticed that Bob’s right hand was bright red.
“Hey, did you hurt yourself, man?” Scott asked.
Bob looked down at his hand. “Nope, just put my stupid hand where I shouldn’t have.”
“Your hand is so red, like stop sign red,” Scott said.
“Oh, Yeah, That’s what I was starting to tell you”. Gary said to Scott. The crumpled bill was rejected again and fell into Gary’s hand. “Motherless son of a whore” Gary screamed as he kicked the machine. Scott reached down and snatched up the dollar. He opened the machine, dropped the money in the box in the door, and handed Gary a beer.
Gary popped the top, chugged the beer, let out a long burp, and tossed the empty can at Bob. The throw went so wide, Bob didn’t even have to move.
“Like I was saying,” Gary said as he turned to Scott, “Bob opened one of the drums and some got on his hand. Now his hand is red.”
“It doesn’t hurt or nothing. It’s just really red. “ Bob said as he resumed pounding.
Gary dumped all his change and bills into the money box and grabbed another beer.
They sat in the car seats Bob had bolted to the wall, between them was a giant wooden spool with some nearly full ashtrays. Gary lit up a smoke and started cleaning; emptying ashtrays and picking up the trash around the area. He did it so casually; it was like he lived there.
Bob dropped the hammer and grabbed a beer for himself, joining the other guys around the table. Laughing he said, “So what do you two clowns want? Carol tossed you out, you can stay here the night, but Cathy will not let you both stay for long.”
The three men sat there smoking and drinking. At some point, Gary went over and flipped on the stereo. The classic rock was loud, but they could still talk over it.
“Bob”, Gary said, slurring his words a little,” Bob, we need weapons. Do you have any weapons, Bob?”
Bob took a swig of his beer and looked sideways over at Scott. Scott shrugged his shoulders, nodded his head, and took a swig from his beer. Bob looked back at Gary and shook his head. “I’m not willing to give you anything more dangerous than a bottle opener tonight you drunken idiot?” Bob laughed and looked back at Scott. “What are you guys up to?
Scott opened his mouth, but Gary stood up and yelled, ” We’re gonna burn the fucking world up tonight.” Gary sat down hard. “Well, maybe tomorrow,” he said as he slumped over in the chair.
Bob lit a smoke, Scott lit a smoke, and they both chuckled looking at Gary.
“He’s been drinking since I woke him at seven am. Cathy gave him ten bucks to change a flat on her car. He didn’t even take a sip of coffee. He grabbed a six-pack and went out to the driveway. He had finished three beers by the time the tire was changed. Now Cathy wants to kill him.”
“Uh, Oh, “Scott said with a smile, “what did he do to his big sister’s car?”
Bob laughed, “It’s not funny”, he said trying to keep a straight face, “it’s not funny. I could have been bad.” Bob took a deep breath to calm himself and continued, “Six-month pregnant Cathy said she was going out to get some lunch. She has been craving KFC coleslaw this whole pregnancy so, I knew that was where she was headed. She got her fat ass in the car and drove down the driveway. She turned left, and since Gary did not tighten the lugs enough, the driver’s side front tire, went right” Bob laughed again as he said, “the funny thing is that, the tire that idiot was supposed to change, was the rear tire. Why would he loosen the front lug nuts?” Bob laughed into his beer, shaking his head.
Scott noticed again that Bob’s hand was extremely red. It looked like bloody raw skin. “So, what did you do to your hand?”
“Oh Yea, “Bob chuckled, turning the red hand in front of his face, examining it. “ We picked up twenty, fifty-gallon drums of this chemical goo from Zastra Sentica, a few weeks back. We were supposed to get rid of it, but last time, about ten years ago, I did the same job for the same guy. I ended up with sixteen drums of the best engine degreaser, slash, paint remover, slash insecticide I ever had. And it was free, can you believe it? This was before you met me, but I used to have a fire ant problem in the garage. I put some of that stuff all around the property, and in the corners of the garage. The result was, not only did the fire ants leave but there hasn’t been a flea or a tick on any pets the kids bring into the yard ever since. Worst thing about that goo was it smelled like burnt hair, like really strong, at first; then the smell goes away.”
“Anyway, I thought this new stuff could be as useful as the last stuff. So I started cleaning a bunch of intake valves in that bucket over there. My hand slipped and ended up being covered with the new goo, which is thicker and blacker than the last batch. Then my whole hand started twitching. All the way up to the wrist it was tingling, like a nice tingle, but the fingers and wrists parts all started jumping around, completely out of my control. It was scary to watch because I had no control of it. The fingers were moving in directions that would have made me scream in pain in real life. I went to hose off my hand when all of a sudden the black goo was absorbed by my skin. It all went away and all the weird twitches stopped. Now my hand is all red.”
Gary farted. Both men looked over at him. The fart caused some sort of chain reaction, as Gary began to slowly slide out of his chair, and crumple into a heap on the cement floor. Gary groaned.
Bob finished his beer and tossed the empty can towards the metal trash can. He missed. “Gotta fire up the forge tomorrow,” he said. He crushed out his smoke in the ashtray made from a giant truck engine piston. He looked at Scott, smiled, and said, “Goodnight, see ya in the am.” He stumbled out the door of the garage.
Scott got up and moved Gary’s arms and legs around so he was on his side in the safety position. There was no way no Gary could roll onto his back and choke on his own vomit. Scott, feeling a little drunk himself, and a little happier about his current lot in life, left the garage and crawled into Gary’s truck to sleep.
Crickets chirped. Some poor creature screamed in the night, as it came to a sticky end at the mouth and claws of another beast. Time passed.